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Coronavirus: Pet dog’s ‘weak positive’ may be due to environmental contamination

There is no evidence that pets can be infected with COVID-19, but a dog belonging to a coronavirus patient in Hong Kong tested as a 'weak positive' for the virus.

A pet dog has been quarantined in Hong Kong after it tested a "weak positive" for coronavirus, but officials say more testing is needed to determine whether the animal is actually infected, according to the Hong Kong government.

Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said in a statement that the owner of the dog was a person who was infected with the COVID-19 disease. The Department of Health referred AFCD staff to the apartment, where they picked up the pet and sent it to an animal keeping facility. 

The dog has not exhibited any symptoms, but tested a "weak positive" for COVID-19. The AFCD did not give details on what a weak positive means. 

Officials say they plan to run more tests to see if the dog is sick or whether the results were skewed by "environmental contamination of the dog's mouth and nose."  

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The dog is believed to be the first pet to be quarantined for a suspected case of the coronavirus. There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted to pets, and the initial test did not confirm the dog was infected. More testing will be done on the dog to determine if it is a confirmed case of COVID-19. If confirmed, it would be the first case globally of a pet being infected with the coronavirus. 

Officials said the dog will only be returned when the test result is negative. 

The Hong Kong government advised pet owners to maintain good hygiene habits and wash their hands thoroughly before coming into contact with their pets. 

COVID-19 has infected more than 82,000 people across 60 countries. Global markets have suffered as concerns about the spread of the virus rise.